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If you’re designing a new kitchen or just looking to swap out a dated cooktop, there are a lot of decisions to make. From the fuel source (electric vs. gas) to the number of burners you need, it can quickly become overwhelming when the dozens of great-looking options all claim to be the best. To help you get a handle on that to buy and where to put it, I consulted with a kitchen design expert,
“If heat accuracy, response time, or wok-cooking is a priority, we typically recommend a gas cooktop," says Kerrie Kelly, CEO of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. "If a home cook loves to simmer, cook pasta, or if easy cleanup is a must, an electric cooktop may be best."
“[I recommend] surrounding a cooking appliance with plenty of countertop prep space and a nearby sink," Kelly says. "Additionally, we ensure that appliance and cabinet doors and handles won't collide and that an oven or cooktop isn't located right next to a refrigerator, with the heat taxing and shortening the larger appliance's lifespan. Often the choice comes down to client cooking habits, space limitations, and budget, especially when considering current locations of electric hook-ups and gas lines."
I’ve done the research to help narrow down the best-performing cooktops for any kitchen design. Here are my top cooktops for any kitchen, whether you want gas, electric, or induction.
Best Overall, Electric: Samsung NZ36K7570RG 36-Inch Radiant Electric Cooktop
What We Love: Wi-Fi compatible, melt mode, fingerprint-free surface, ADA compliant
What We Don't Love: Electric may not provide as much heat control as gas or induction
This feature-rich electric cooktop from Samsung has a futuristic feel that also performs. It has five elements with burner-syncing technology that allows you to turn two adjacent elements into one large cooking surface when it's time to warm up the griddle for Sunday brunch.
The cooktop is also Wi-Fi-enabled and connects to your smartphone, so you can triple-check that you turned off all the burners, wherever you are. A rapid-boil element brings stock pots up to temperature quickly and efficiently, while a simmer and a melt burner will come in handy for delicate tasks like making a roux or tempering chocolate. The sleek black surface also looks great and resists fingerprints, so it’s easy to keep shiny and new looking. For safety, a bold indicator light lets users know that a burner is still hot after cooking.
Fuel Type: Electric | Dimensions (DxWxH): 21.25 x 36 x 5.1 inches | Number of Elements: 5
Best Overall, Gas: GE JGP5030SLSS 30-Inch Gas Cooktop with 5 Burners Including Power Burners
What We Love: Dishwasher-safe grates, precise simmer burner for low-heat cooking
What We Don't Love: No indicator light
GE is known for making high-quality, durable appliances, and this sturdy 30-inch cooktop is no different. This 5-burner cooktop is powerful enough for restaurant-quality cooking at home, while also being super compact, making this a great gas range for any sized kitchen.
Despite the size, this cooktop delivers high heat for fast, efficient cooking. One of the burners has a “power boil” setting for bursts of high heat, up to 15,000 BTUs, that can quickly bring your pasta water to a boil. Meanwhile, the simmer burner lets the complex flavors of your kimchi jjigae come together. The cooktop is also designed for ease of use, with heavy-duty grates that provide a smooth surface to slide pots and pans around between the various sized burners.
There is an optional griddle sold separately, and the entire cooktop does come with a 1-year limited warranty. The stainless steel surface isn’t hard to keep clean, and the removable grates are even dishwasher safe, making this one of the easiest gas ranges to maintain.
Fuel Type: Gas | Dimensions (DxWxH): 21 x 30 x 5.5 inches | Maximum Power: 15,000 BTUs | Number of Burners: 5
Best Budget: Gasland CH77BF 30-Inch Electric Cooktop
What We Love: 9 power levels, auto shutdown, expandable elements, child safety protection features
What We Don't Love: Only 4 elements, may be scratched by heavy cookware
Being on a budget shouldn't mean giving up on some of the most important features associated with electric cooktops. It's those features that make this Gasland electric cooktop an excellent affordable choice.
The compact 30-inch cooktop has ample cooking space for two to three people. The heat is easy to control with digital built-in buttons that give this cooktop its sleek look (there are no bulky or breakable dials or knobs to deal with). Two of the elements can expand, one from 5.5 inches in diameter to 9 inches, and the other expands out to 11 inches, making it ideal for big-pot dinners like osso buco.
There is even a built-in timing feature that lets you set a cook time from one to 99 minutes. Your burner will automatically shut off when the time comes, so you don’t have to babysit a pot on the stove or set a noisy kitchen alarm. For cleaning, the glass-ceramic surface can be wiped clean with a damp sponge or dish towel.
Fuel Type: Electric | Dimensions (DxWxH): 20.5 x 30.3 x 2.1 inches | Number of Elements: 4
Related: The Best Electric Ranges
Best with Griddle: Thor Kitchen HRT4806U 48-Inch Gas Range Top in Stainless Steel with 6 Burners
What We Love: 18,000-BTU burners, covered grill top, professional-quality gas cooktop
What We Don't Love: Might be too large for some kitchens, expensive
If you're an expert in the kitchen, you might want an extra-special gas cooktop to achieve your cooking ambitions. This professional-quality gas range from Thor Kitchen will help make those dreams come true while making a statement in any kitchen.
It features a gleaming stainless-steel griddle surface in addition to the six large burners. Unlike other cooktops that come with griddles, you can use this flat top without sacrificing most of your burners. Control the 18,000-BTU built-in griddle just like one of the gas burners to fry up burgers, buckwheat pancakes, and more, with no extra pans necessary. The grill has a stainless steel cover that both protects the cooking surface from spills and traps in heat for cooking.
The other burners are nothing to sneeze at either. The front three burners will all give you 18,000 BTUs of heat, while the back burners go up to 15,000 BTUs. The continuous cast-iron grates make sliding pans from one to another seamless and easy, there's a porcelain drip pan for clean-up, and the burners are protected against gas leaking when the flame goes out.
Fuel Type: Gas | Dimensions (DxWxH): 28.4 x 48 x 7.9 inches | Maximum Power: 18,000 BTUs | Number of Burners: 6
Related: The Best Gas Ranges
Best Induction: GE Profile PHP9036DJBB 36-Inch Induction Cooktop
What We Love: Power boil burner boils water in minutes, indicator light for hot surfaces, control lock
What We Don't Love: Expensive
Induction is a safe, fast, energy-efficient cooktop surface that is becoming more popular as it gets more affordable. This 5-burner cooktop from GE harnesses the power of induction in an attractive and highly functional appliance.
"Combining the best of gas and electric worlds, another cooktop is induction (especially as California laws are requiring induction for new builds)," says Kelly. "Induction cooktops are easier to clean than electric and provide heat that is as consistent as gas. Induction also provides unique benefits such as quicker heat and boil times and unique safety features not found in any other form of cooking."
The largest element here has an 11-inch diameter with a 3,700-watt power boil setting that heats liquids in minutes. The elements are controlled by easy-to-use digital-touch buttons with an indicator light to let you know if a burner is still hot to the touch. They can be safely locked to avoid accidents, and they automatically shut off when you remove the cookware. And for big-batch cooking or a stovetop griddle, you can sync two of the burners for an even temperature.
Fuel Type: Electric | Dimensions (DxWxH): 20.4 x 36 x 4.6 inches | Number of Elements: 5
Best with Downdraft: KitchenAid KCGD506GSS 36-Inch Stainless Steel Gas Cooktop with Downdraft
What We Love: 17,000-BTU large burner, downdraft can be converted to duct-free ventilation
What We Don't Love: Cannot be installed over an oven
Downdraft means the fan ventilation is a part of your cooktop, not located in the hood above. It creates a suction-like airflow that works while you're cooking. The downdraft on this KitchenAid stainless-steel gas cooktop helps divert odors and smoke away from your kitchen. It can be installed anywhere in your kitchen (other than over your oven) if you convert the downdraft to ductless ventilation.
The 3-speed vent on this is powerful but takes up minimal space on the stove, leaving a full five burners for cooking. One burner is powerfully equipped with 17,000 BTUs of heat, while another is designed for low-temp melting without a double-boiler. Heavy cast-iron grates cover the entire stove for easy pot maneuvering, and the ignition is electric, not a pilot light, and will automatically re-ignite if the flame is blown out.
Fuel Type: Gas | Dimensions (DxWxH): 21 x 36 x 3.69 inches | Number of Burners: 5
Related: The Best Gas Cooktops
Smart capabilities, a melt mode, and other advanced features make the Samsung NZ36K7570RG 36-Inch Radiant Electric Cooktop (view at Home Depot) our favorite for electric cooktops. A precise simmer burner and easy cleanup put the GE JGP5030SLSS 30-Inch Gas Cooktop with 5 Burners Including Power Burners (view at Home Depot) at the top of our list for gas cooktops.
What to Look for When Buying a Cooktop
Before you start looking for cooktops, take some measurements of your kitchen space. The standard sizes for ranges are 30 and 36 inches wide. However, you can find smaller and larger cooktops. Make sure you account for the depth of your counters as well, though most homes are built to accommodate standard cooktops, 20 to 21 inches.
Newer cooktops are outfitted with features that can make cooking easier and safer. These include Wi-Fi compatibility so you can control your stove from anywhere. Other features include burner syncing, which lets you connect two burners into one larger cooking surface. For safety, electric cooktops often have indicator lights to prevent burns from a still-hot surface. Some also have child-lock technology that prevents little ones from turning on the stove. An auto-off feature is also helpful if you’re concerned about leaving a burner on.
It’s best to read the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning your cooktop. In general, stainless steel appliances can be cleaned with a specific stainless steel cleaning gel or a paste of baking soda and water. Glass ceramic surfaces on electric stoves should be wiped down regularly with warm water. For a deeper clean, sprinkle the cooktop with baking soda and wipe it down with a damp cloth, then polish with white vinegar.
What’s the difference between electric and induction cooktops?
Both induction and electric cooktops use electricity as their fuel source. The difference is how they heat your pots and pans. Electric cooktops generate heat through electricity in the burners. Induction, on the other hand, creates heat via a magnetic current between the cooktop burner and the pot itself. For this reason, induction cooktops lose less heat to the atmosphere and are highly efficient. They can boil water up to 50 percent faster than gas or electric cooktops. To create the magnetic field, however, you must use stainless steel or aluminum-bottomed cookware with an induction burner. Electric burners will work with any cookware.
How do you measure for a cooktop?
To determine whether a new stove top will fit in your kitchen, you’ll need to find a few key measurements. Every cooktop has “cut-out” measurements. These indicate the size of the hole you’ll need to make in your counter to accommodate the cooktop. The cut-out length, width, and depth are slightly less than the full size of the appliance. Take these measurements in your kitchen and ensure they meet the cut-out requirements before buying a new cooktop.
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This article was written by Lizzy Briskin, a chef, food writer, and recipe developer who loves trying her favorite recipes on different stove tops for comparison.
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